Interview with Kenyan singer Sage

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Conversation with multitalented singer, songwriter and instrumentalist “Sage”

Sage has been busy, she’s currently working on new music spending most of her time in studio, rehearsals and meetings. While outside all that she works on raising her daughter. The multitalented artist has been making musical waves for a while now, notably since early 2010s, then came her breakout collaboration So Alive with Kenyan rapper Octopizzo in 2013.

Kenyan pop music-just like the rest of the world-sounds the same with limited variations, but artists such as Sage however, come speaking a rather different music language leaning more on rich vocals, tight harmonies while experimenting with different sounds.

She no doubt is an excellent artists; among musicians whose unique soulful vibes, upbeat productions and incredible skills have set her apart. Her March release ‘Trust You’ is a ballad filled with funky bass lines, brass that hang throughout in the tune producing a different version of the same song with subsequent listens.

Sage says there were plans to release an EP this year, but she has since put that off and opted to release a series of singles in anticipation for a full-length album.

We sought out a conversation with the songstress on her Rhythmic Soul music, perspectives on the Kenyan music scene and future plans.

Afroway: Finally, the interview we’ve been looking forward to… how have you been?

Sage: I have been good, thanks

Afroway: Sage, what have you been up to aside from music?

Sage: Apart from music just motherhood. I have been more into music than ever.

Afroway: How is Sage’s typical day?

Sage: To be honest, I don\’t have a \”typical day\”. Every day varies. I think the most constant thing in my day would be breakfast with my daughter, piano practice for at least an hour and bedtime unwind with my daughter. Some days I have more free time than others and some are just days full of studio, rehearsals, meetings, interviews etc.

Afroway: When was the last time you were in studio?

Sage: I was last in studio three days ago to finish a song that I will be releasing early November. I have been in studio a lot this year.

Afroway: Whisper has it that you are currently working on a new project, what should your fans expect?

Sage: I was hoping to release an EP late this year but I decided to just put out singles instead and hold off for an album instead. Fans should expect more of me. I think the more I record, the more I enjoy experimenting with different sounds. So I guess they should expect different variations of me.

Afroway: How different will this project be from the previous album?

Sage: I don\’t think I would call it different. I would refer to it as a continuation of the journey from where the album left off. Some themes are going to be repeated but overall you will be able to tell that it is me and my work.

Afroway: Singer, pianist and guitarist, wow! How does it feel to be multi-talented?

Sage: To be honest, I feel pretty regular. I don\’t know if it is because the standards I try to achieve are ridiculously high that I feel like I am just at the beginning or if I\’m just so used to it that it feels normal. However, I am thankful to God and to my teachers and people I admire for giving me and nurturing my talents, respectfully.

Afroway: How do you describe your music?

Sage: Rhythmic Soul, meaning it has really danceable beats but the soulful melodies and lyrics are still there. I however do not like to put myself in a box so I often stray into completely different territories.

Afroway: Which do you favor harmonies and real singing or the digitized production?

Sage: I obviously love the first but I feel like there is a time, place, person and song for either of them.

Afroway: Who are your musical influences?

Sage: I grew up on many different genres of music including Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Classical music, a lot of contemporary Christian music. However I think the earliest influence for me when it came to secular writing was Destiny\’s Child. I am now influenced by a lot of new school singers and rappers and people like Freddy Mercury, Hugh Masekela and Beethoven.

Afroway: Any African artists out there you are excited about?

Sage: I am excited about all the budding talent coming out from Kenya. The underground scene has ridiculous talent and is very vibrant and I think Africa needs to hear it. I am currently loving Hugh Masekela and Shekinah.

Afroway: As an artist how much are you putting in to become an African Influencer?

Sage: I guess everything. We as artists are the writers of our stories as Africans and we represent many without even knowing it. I try my best to be as authentic to myself as possible. Granted a lot of my songs are in English, I believe that by telling my story and expressing myself as I choose will give others the courage to do so as well.

Afroway: Do you believe the Kenyan music industry is on the right path? What flaws or successes would you cite?

Sage: It’s hard to say, there are too many things involved. However the industry has grown and hopefully will continue to grow as the flaws are ironed out.

Afroway: What is your take on foreign artists being paid more to perform in Kenya, than the Kenyan artists? Does it irk you?

Sage: Of course it does. Especially because the gap in remuneration between the local artist and foreign artist is usually large. I understand that with certain caliber of artist we should expect them to be paid more (say award winning legendary musicians who are untouchable in their field), however, sometimes we over hype very mediocre musicians from outside and treat our best and brightest like beggars. It is sad. This translates to how the Kenyan people view our profession. Anyway this needs a proper debate because there are so many layers to these things.

Afroway: Where do you see yourself in the next say five years?

Sage: Touring the world with a substantial fan base to make it financially profitable. Mentoring young musicians and maybe even transitioning permanently to classical music. Wherever I will be I want to be thriving.

Afroway: Most daring thing you’ve ever done…

Sage: Zip lining. I am afraid of heights so that was one of the most dangerous and exhilarating things I have done yet.

Afroway: Favorite Kenyan food and hangout spot you’d recommend for a visitor?

Sage: It would have to be the brown millet ugali with cream spinach and ‘mursik’. It reminds me of my childhood growing up and visiting my grandparents. It just makes me feel loved and at home. I would recommend Kosewe for the authentic dishes and NyamaMama for their amazing modern twist on African food.

Afroway: What’s the best thing about being an African?

Sage: Being an African in this age.

Get on Sage’s music on all digital platforms.

|Afroway @afrowayonline  @Chemutai_sage

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